19 May 2016

Saint Dunstan

St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury (+988). Acrylic and gold leaf on panel, 8"x10," private commission.

I love Saint Dunstan and consider him an unofficial patron of my life. I was born on his feast day, May 19 and have really felt his influence in my life.  I feel very close to him in many ways; we are both English by blood and ecclesiastical artists and musicians. He lived from 909 to 988 and was the definition of a polymath: he was a talented artist, musician, clergyman, and statesman.  
I did quite extensive research for this icon. He is wearing X century English archepiscopal vestments. English bishops did not wear mitres until XII century. He wears the pallium (as an archbishop), as well as chasuble, dalmatic, alb, maniple and amice. As a bishop, he holds his crosier facing outward, shepherding his flock, as well as holding the Holy Gospel as a teacher. As an artist, he is holding smithing tongs and hammer, a quill and brush, and a harp. There is a story that St. Dunstan pinched the devil's nose with red-hot tongs when he tried to tempt the saint as he was smithing a chalice.
St. Dunstan was from Glastonbury (home of the Glastonbury Thorn, which grew from the staff of St. Joseph of Arimathea when he planted staff in the ground when he evangelized England after the Resurrection of Christ).   He was a monk, abbot, and bishop, eventually becoming the Archbishop of Canterbury.  St. Dunstan led a cultural and monastic revival in tenth century England, which had been ravaged by the vikings.  He established many monasteries.  He encouraged the arts; Glastonbury became a center of culture.  St. Dunstan became Archbishop of Canterbury, and advised kings (of whom was St. Edward the King-Martyr). 
As a visual artist, St. Dunstan was an icon painter, he illuminated manuscripts, designed vestments, cast bells, was a goldsmith and made holy vessels from precious metals (such as chalices and censers). Below is a manuscript which St. Dunstan illuminated, and contains a self portrait of the humble Dunstan prostrate at the feet of the mighty Christ.
In one of his manuscripts, Saint Dunstan left perhaps the earliest self-portrait in history. Source
As a musician, St. Dunstan composed hymns for the Church.  He played on a harp to accompany the nuns of his abbey as they worked.  His dying words were sung from the Psalms of David. One surviving hymn is "Kyrie Rex Splendens," which Saint Dunstan, in a vision during Mass, heard the angels in heaven  singing.  He quickly wrote it down to preserve it.  It is sung below.

Troparion, Tone 8:
By thee, O Dunstan, hath the whole land of England been wondrously adorned, for thou didst labor unceasingly to restore all the monastic houses laid waste by the heathen, to people them again with zealous monks and nuns, and to provide them with strict rules of pious order wherewith to govern their lives. Wherefore, the Church of Christ doth ever praise thine all-honorable name, O holy bishop.

Kontakion, Tone 3:
Like a master helmsman, O Dunstan, thou didst ably pilot the ship of Church and state in England, skillfully avoiding the treacherous rocks and reefs hidden beneath the tides of thy times, and bringing it safely to the calm harbour of heaven, fully laden with its freight of men's souls, which thou didst deliver, rejoicing, to Christ thy Master.

Daniels, R. W. (1987). Dunstan, jewel of the English. Tulsa, OK: St. Dunstan's Press.
Lambertson, I. (n.d.). Service to St. Dunstan. Retrieved from: http://orthodoxengland.org.uk/servduns.htm

Norris, Herbert (2002). Church Vestments: Their Origin and Development. Dover Publications.

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16 May 2016

Saint Brendan the Navigator

Saint Brendan the Navigator

Saint Brendan the Navigator (+577) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland, an abbot who founded many monasteries across Ireland. He undertook an epic voyage across the Atlantic Ocean; some believe he is the first European to reach North America.

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08 May 2016

Saint John the Theologian

Christ and Saint John the Theologian

"There was at table one of His disciples--the one Jesus loved-- reclining with his head on Jesus's bosom." John 13:23

This icon was painted for a close friend whose patron is Saint John the Theologian. His favorite passage in the Gospels is the Mystical Supper, showing the intimate friendship and love between Christ and His disciple, John. The rest of the disciples abandoned Christ; of the twelve, only St. John remained by Christ's side when He was on the Cross.

In composition, this icon was based on the fourteenth-century fresco of the Mystical Supper from Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos.

The Mystical Supper, Fresco from Vatopedi, XIV c.
Source: http://www.pravoslavie.ru/foto/image5222.htm

The colors come from a series of eleventh century panel icons, originally from Vatopedi Monastery. I was inspired by the brilliant colors of "The Raising of Lazarus," which I've been able to see in person several times at the Byzantine Christian Museum in Athens and the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Mystical Supper, Panel Icon from Vatopedi, XII c.
Source: http://www.pravoslavie.ru/foto/image5221.htm

The Raising of Lazarus, Panel Icon from Vatopedi, XII c.
Source: http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/print61101.htm

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07 May 2016

Saint Thomas the Apostle

Sign for Saint Thomas the Apostle Orthodox Church, Kokomo, Indiana. 36x60"

In this icon, Saint Thomas believes while Christ looks us in the eye, asking us "Who do you say that I AM?" Let us join St. Thomas' confession of faith in the Risen Christ: "My Lord and my God!" The clothing of the Risen Christ is glistening with His life-giving, resurrected glory. My inspiration and prototype comes primarily from a beautiful 700-year-old fresco in the church of St. Clement of Ohrid. The composition is cropped in to focus on just Christ and Thomas.
The Belief of Thomas, Saint Clement of Ohrid, c. 1295 (Source: orthodoxy-icons.com [defunct website])

Saint Thomas Orthodox in Kokomo, Indiana commissioned this large outdoor icon for a sign on the side of their church. Because the icon is outside, exposed to direct sunlight and the elements, I used Keim mineral paints, which are designed for outdoor murals.

Bishop PAUL of Chicago and the Midwest (OCA) blesses the icon before the installation.

The installation of the icon.

The completed and installed icon. I also painted the sign on the ground in 2014.

05 May 2016

Saint Irene, the Great Martyr

Saint Irene the Great Martyr, detail from analogion

Analogion with the Theotokos and St. Irene, Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit, Wantage, New Jersey

Saint Irene was raised in paganism to royal parents. She embraced the Christian faith, converted thousands to Christianty through working miracles and miraculously surviving innumerable tortures.

The analogia at Holy Spirit Orthodox Church, Wantage, New Jersey, were donated to the parish some years ago. They were beautifully carved in Romania, with hand-painted icons of Christ and the Theotokos in the top circles, but the lower circles were blank. A parishioner commissioned icons to be painted on the lower circles of both analogia, in memory of her parents, George and Irene. The commission also included gilding the halos and backgrounds of all four circular icons.

Analogion with Christ and St. George, Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit, Wantage, New Jersey

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Saint Ephraim of Nea Makri

Saint Ephraim of Nea Makri, 8x10" Acrylic and Gold on Panel

Saint Ephraim of Nea Makri was a hermit who lived in the mountains above a monastery in Nea Makri, on the east coast of Attiki, Greece. Once, when returning to his monastery for the Divine Liturgy, he found the bodies of all of his monastic brothers, slain by Turkish pirates. He buried his brothers, and lived in the monastery and prayed the Divine services until the Turks returned. They tied him to a tree, and beat him mercilessly every day for nine months, trying to convert him to Islam. Finally, they impaled him with a burning stick, and he completed his martyric race on May 5, 1426. He was utterly forgotten for almost 500 years. On January 3, 1950, the nun Makaria uncovered his relics as she was living in the ruins of his monastery. Since that time, he has been a continuous fountain of miracles and the grace of God.

This saint is very dear to me. I visited his grace-filled and wonderworking relics twice. This icon is now in Trikala, Greece, St. Ephraim’s boyhood home.

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03 May 2016

The Wedding at Cana

The Wedding at Cana, 11x14" Acrylic and Gold on Panel

Christ's first miracle was performed at a wedding. The wedding celebration exhausted the wine, and Christ's Mother urged Him to provide more. The Lord miraculously turned ordinary water into the finest wine. This event is commemorated in the Orthodox Christian wedding service, and this icon was commissioned to be a part of an Orthodox wedding.

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02 May 2016

Holy, Glorious, Right-Victorious Great-Martyr George the Trophy-Bearer

Saint George Slaying the Dragon, 9x12", Acrylic and Gold on Panel

Christ is risen! Today, Bright Monday, is the feast of the Holy, Glorious, Right-Victorious Great-Martyr George the Trophy-Bearer. He was a Christian and a well-respected soldier in the Roman army. He rose to the highest ranks, joining the personal guard of the Emperor Diocletian. When Diocletian issued an edict of fierce persecution against Christians, St. George refused, was tortured tremendously, and finally beheaded on April 23, AD 303. His feast is transferred to today since April 23 was in Holy Week this year.

Saint George, the Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer, 5x7", Acrylic and Gold on Panel

Kontakion, Tone 4
God raised you as his own gardener, O George,
for you have gathered for yourself the sheaves of virtue.
Having sown in tears, you now reap with joy;
you shed your blood in combat and won Christ as your crown.
Through your intercessions, forgiveness of sins is granted to all.

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